* Note to my American readers (all three of you): I’m sorry, but there’s a lot in here you’re just not going to get. It’s not you; it’s us. It’s a Canadian thing. I’ve tried to be helpful with links but it’s honestly not going to be the same. Likewise for most readers under 35. I’m sorry. I apologize. Which is also a Canadian thing.
Say what you will about those protestors besieging U.S. embassies around the world (angry, fanatical, murderous, outdoorsy), they certainly are passionate in their beliefs. I can’t imagine what would stir up enough blind rage to compel me to storm another nation’s diplomatic post, especially if it meant using up a personal day.
The riots were triggered by a YouTube video considered insulting to the Prophet Muhammad. I’ve viewed plenty of YouTube videos that I’ve considered insulting to my intelligence but none to date have provoked me to call for the beheading of the 15-year-old auteur responsible and for the annihilation of the nation that sired him.
Then again, I’m not Muslim. What if the offending video insulted Jesus Christ or God? Not that considerable violence and death haven’t already been committed in their names, but I don’t think most contemporary Christians would get that stirred up over their religion. (Most.) I do know some church ladies who get pretty fervent leading up to the annual Fall Foliage Tea and Sale, but only rarely has that ended in bloodshed.
No, I don’t see myself going to bat (literally) for the Father or the Son (and the Holy Ghost can take care of himself). The subject of attack would have to be more secular, perhaps someone who speaks to me on an emotional level, someone whose status and reputation is virtually untouchable, revered in death even more than in life. Peter Gzowski, maybe.
So let’s say there’s a person with an axe to grind against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, someone who thinks the federal Conservatives aren’t doing enough to crush its liberal-lusting spirit. This person stitches together an amateur video about the beloved radio host, calls it “Mourning Sighed” and insinuates through bad dubbing and footage stolen from highly questionable Internet sites that Gzowski enjoyed a torrid love affair with Dalton Camp and distributed clubbed baby seals to children at Halloween.
No, that wouldn’t make me riot. At best, it might trigger a strongly worded letter to The Globe & Mail.
Maybe if the video were produced in a country towards which I have a pre-existing enmity, some longstanding grudge, like Peru. Why Peru? I’d rather not talk about it but Peru knows exactly why…
But that wouldn’t be enough either, mainly because this type of video is just the sort of thing you’d expect from a Peruvian.
There would have to be some additional element to create the perfect storm that would spur me to travel to the city to (perfectly) storm the Peruvian consulate, because, seriously, gas prices are just so high right now.
What if I were incited to violence by some rabble-rousing Gzowski-ite reminding me that those who disparage The Broadcaster’s name are doing Satan’s work and probably buying advertising in Québecor newspapers? What if he pointed out that if I martyred myself to the cause I would go directly to heaven where I would be waited upon by 70 Barbara Frums?
Nah. At my age, it’s more work than it’s worth getting my rabble roused.
Some other ingredient is needed in this cocktail of violence, some existing situation where emotions are already high, where tensions are at the breaking point, where there’s no place for rational thought. I know: sports and alcohol! The end of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup! And the Peruvian consulate just happens to be right next door! What are the chances of that?
So let’s see: I’ve just left Game 7 of the Stanley Cup where I’ve been drinking heavily. (It doesn’t matter whether my team won or lost; windows be a-smashin’!) Outside, one of those giant electronic billboards is screening a terribly produced amateur foreign video (death to Peru!) blaspheming the memory of the Holy Smoking One, and standing right there with a megaphone is a remarkably charismatic CBC archivist urging the faithful to rain bloodshed upon all who denigrate the Corporation, shouting, “God is on our ‘Morningside!’” And the crowd and I surge on the consulate in a fanatical frenzy, causing untold damage and injury with our CBC tote bags, promotional mugs and fridge magnets with their surprisingly sharp edges.
Nope. Still wouldn’t happen. A silly video’s not going to make me riot. I guess I just lack the moral conviction.